War is Hulu
Found In: Video
It is an epic battle. A battle waged the world over, unceasingly, for decades, with still no end in sight. A battle that has produced more highs, lows, tensions, and excitement than can be found in any single film. It is the battle… between movies and TV.
Fortunately for all of us, this isn’t a battle where we have to pick a side. In fact, it’s not even a battle where anyone loses! We just keep getting better and better entertainment out of it. And if you’re interested in the TV side of the battle, then we have something else you’ll be interested in Hulu.com.
Hulu is an online subscription service that lets you watch TV shows instantly (called “streaming”) over the internet. Now, it is possible to access some TV shows through Netflix, Amazon, or even YouTube, but what makes Hulu so special is how quickly they can bring you even the hottest new shows. Most TV doesn’t make it to the internet for at least a few weeks, if not a few months, after it first airs. With Hulu, though, you can access episodes from ABC, CW, Fox, and NBC just a day after they are first played. You can then watch these shows on your TV, computer, smart phone, or other devices.
Creating an Account
Hulu, like most similar services, now offers you a free trial period! This is a great way to check out the service firsthand — not just what it can do, but how it looks and feels, how easy it is to use, etc. — and to find out whether or not it’s right for you.
To get started, go to www.Hulu.com. You will be greeted and welcomed to great TV. How friendly! Best to move on to the next step by clicking the big, green “Start Your Free Trial” button in the middle of the screen. They make that one pretty easy on us.
Once you’ve clicked on the button, you have your first big decision to make. “Big” being something of a relative term here, but still: do you want to go commercial-free, or with limited commercials?
This is a personal preference thing. Personally, I would go for commercial-free: it’s only $4 per month more ($12/month instead of $8/month), and lets me watch my shows straight-through. Sure, I’ll miss out on some funny commercials, but I’ll miss out on a whole lot more boring ones. I prefer commercial-free because it makes my life a bit easier, even if it is a bit more expensive. But if that doesn’t matter to you, or if you even like having some short commercial breaks (it can be nice to have a chance to get up and stretch those legs), go with the cheaper, limited commercials version.
OK, Done? Now you’ll need to give Hulu some information so it can set up your account. If you are Facebook-savvy, they give you a chance to sign up that way and avoid having to fill out some forms. If not, though, it’s just some basics to fill in — name, email, and card number are the main things it needs to know. And don’t worry — Hulu can be trusted with your information.
Once you’ve done this, your free trial will have started. Congratulations! Now we can start exploring!
One important thing to remember — while most free trials offered by monthly subscription services are for a one-month period, Hulu’s trial is for one week. This makes a certain amount of sense, given the differences between how people watch TV vs. how they watch movies, but make sure that you are aware of when Hulu will start automatically billing you.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Start Using Your Hulu Account
Once you’ve put in your payment information, you’ll be able to start watching TV. Exciting! The Hulu interface is quite simple and intuitive, so there are as few layers as possible between you and the show you want to watch. All you need to do is pick something…
The first way to go about selecting something to enjoy is to use the category options on the lefthand side of the bar at the top of the screen. Hulu specializes in TV, but you can also browse through their movies, look at their original series, or view the video they have especially for kids. You can even, if you move your mouse over the “…” icon, select from Latino, Anime, British, Korean Drama, and other categories.
Once you’ve selected one of these, some other icons will pop up. These may be for specific shows, or for subcategories (such as specific genres). In either case, you can simply click on the icons that appeal to you until you reach a show you want to watch. Click it, and it will begin playing.
Alternatively, if you know what you want to watch and just need to be able to find it, Hulu provides a search bar in the top center of the screen. Type in what you want, click to play. Pretty simple stuff.
And, of course, remember that — if you’ve chosen the Limited Ads version — there will be some ads playing during your viewing.
The Hulu Hustle
Now that you’ve gotten the basics down, here are some tips that’ll let you get the most bang for your Hulu buck.
- Search Auto-Complete – when you type into the search bar, Hulu will automatically begin to bring up shows that are a possible match for what you’re typing. Not only can this save you some keystrokes — it can be a fun way to look for sequels to (or spin-offs from) shows you like, look for new shows on a theme, and in other creative ways, as well. Bear this one in mind!
- Make it Flashy – Hulu uses a program called Adobe Flash Player to play its videos, so make sure yours is as up-to-date as possible. You can find the most recent version of flash here.
- Most Recommended – if you go to the “…” icon mentioned earlier, all the way at the bottom of the menu this brings up you’ll see an entry for “Recommendations.” If you click here, you’ll have the opportunity to rate yourself as interested or uninterested in numerous shows. If you do this, Hulu will have the information to begin recommending shows for you! This is great for those nights when you want to veg out, but don’t know quite what to watch.
Hulu is a lot of fun. It can help you keep up with pop culture, help keep you in on your friends’ jokes and references, or even just help keep you entertained. Truly, Hulu is the King of TV, even more than TV is itself. Perhaps, in the far future, there will come a day when all shows are produced directly for Hulu… But the meantime, it’s great to be a member, anyway!